Fresh designs for the redevelopment of Taberner House in Croydon, Surrey, will double the amount of affordable housing in the scheme
NEW designs for the redevelopment of the council's former Taberner House headquarters site - extending Queen's Gardens and doubling the number of affordable homes - have been revealed.
The rethink by applicant Croydon Council Urban Regeneration Vehicle (CCURV) – a partnership between the council and developers, John Laing – is a result of concerns raised by the Labour administration after it gained control of the authority in May.
Pre-planning application proposals will be presented to a meeting of the council's planning committee on Wednesday.
It is being stressed by planning officers that the new designs are at a very early stage and a lot of work still needs to be done by CCURV before a formal application is submitted.
The new design has been described by Councillor Alison Butler, the cabinet member for homes and regeneration, as "a significant improvement".
Original plans for a 420-home development in five blocks, the highest being 32-storeys was approved by the council in May.
The new scheme also envisages 420 homes but the number of blocks will be reduced to four.
It is planned to drop the original six-storey block from the scheme, allowing a reconfiguration of Queen's Gardens providing 9,654 sq metres of accessible public space, an increase of just over 1,000 sq metres on the approved scheme.
To allow for the homes which disappear from the block, the preliminary idea is to increase the height of the two nine-storey blocks to ten and 15 storeys and the 13-storey block to 16 storeys.
No changes are planned for the 32-storey building, although the committee report says CCURV is anxious to use the pre-application process to help push for early delivery of the tower, which will provide all private rented homes. The existing development would have contained 15 per cent affordable housing.
The revised scheme would involve the applicant "aiming to provide" 30 per cent affordable housing across the site, in line with the Labour council's policy.
The committee report indicates this total will still be "subject to financial viability testing".
Cllr Butler said: "While these new designs will still need to go through the planning process and be properly assessed, we are confident they represent a significant improvement.
"We also hope the new proposals double the amount of much needed affordable housing in the scheme, which is a major part of the regeneration Croydon is set to see in the coming years."
She added: "These new designs will save Queen's Gardens and ensure that the new development offers a larger amount of green space.
"These important changes to the designs mean this open space can now be retained and enjoyed by all members of the community."
There will be a range of tenures including affordable rent, shared ownership and private for sale units.
The council will keep the affordable homes as council homes.
A key part of the new scheme is reducing the encroachment of the development on Queen's Gardens, which will increase the amount of open space by more than 1,000 sq m.
In addition, the changes include an increase in the number of disabled parking spaces being provided.
The first phase of the scheme is set to begin in March with work starting on the construction of a 32-storey tower, delivering 230 homes.
The remaining 190 homes in the second phase will be owned by the council, which will retain 30% as affordable council homes and sell the remainder.
"Having ownership of the second phase of development gives the council far greater control over the scheme than under the previous plans. We’re pleased that the revised plans will include more affordable housing – a major priority for this administration – and protect Queen's Gardens from overdevelopment. We want to ensure that Queen's Gardens is a vibrant green space where families go to spend their free time." - Councillor Alison Butler, cabinet member for homes and regeneration